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Champions for Children’s Mental Health opens at Milford Wellness Village

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MILFORD – Nationwide Healthcare Services announced Champions for Children’s Mental Health, a non-profit for families with children who have mental health or behavioral challenges, has opened at the Milford Wellness Village.

Incorporated in 2016, Champions for Children provides family peer support services, including identification of resources, navigation in care systems, connection with services, and more.

“We are excited to have Champions for Children at the Milford Wellness Village,” Executive Director Lon Kieffer said in a statement. “Their addition reinforces our vision of filling gaps in healthcare and offering an array of services for the community who may otherwise might not be able to benefit from access to a wellness approach.”

Champions for Children focuses on the caregiver, so individuals and families can maintain their wellness while they look after those they care for.

“Our services are very unique in the children’s mental health world,” Executive Director Barbara Messick said in a statement. “When a child is diagnosed, you can find services for your child, but nobody is there for you as the caregiver.”

The agency grew from Messick’s frustration with the lack of support for families or caregivers with children with behavioral issues.

milford wellness village champions of children's mental health

Champions for Children Office Manager Karen Messick (left) and Executive Director Barbara Messick | PHOTO COURTESY OF MILFORD WELLNESS VILLAGE

“If I had somebody to help me walk through that whole journey, I wouldn’t have felt alone,” said Messick, a mother of three. “We serve as a bridge between families and professionals.”

“Mr. Gelley and Lon wanted to know about our mission and story and why we do what we do,” Messick said in a statement. “You don’t get that most times because tenants are usually focused on collecting your rent.” 

“Everybody here has just been amazing since we moved in,” Messick said in a statement. “It takes a village to raise a child, and it’s truly a village here. There’s a lot of networking and referral possibilities for everyone on the campus. It’s a good connection for our families to be so close to everyone else.”

Champions for Children has plans to begin a pilot program that would serve two new populations: families separated by the Division of Family Services, working with families to get children back to their homes; and families whose incarcerated children are 90 days from returning home, helping to facilitate continuing mental health services they received while incarcerated. The program is pending approval and grant funding.

Champions for Children has 11 contractors and is looking for additional contractors to serve New Castle County, Messick said. Contractors are parents with children with a mental health diagnosis, willing to share their stories with others.

The Milford Wellness Village is about 80% occupied, with approximately 33,000 square feet of space available, including 20,000 square feet on the main campus and 10,000 square feet in the rear building, which is under renovation.

Milford Wellness Village, owned by Nationwide Healthcare Services, is an innovative, multi-use campus committed to delivering integrated health, education, and other services to the City of Milford, Kent and Sussex counties, and the State of Delaware. Coordinated services are being provided by a select mix of like-minded organizations and tenants who equally share the desire to improve the health and well-being of area residents and reduce overall costs.

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